Hazard mitigation a key to dealing with natural disasters

The first two months of 2010 demonstrated the destructive power of earthquakes. Haiti had a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people. Chile was hit by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake (about 100 times more powerful) and suffered 700 deaths.

Poverty and population density played significant roles in this difference, but a third factor was also involved. In 1960, Chile experienced the largest recorded earthquake in history; it was a 9.5 magnitude and spread its damage throughout Chile and the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

The event greatly increased Chile’s knowledge of risk and caused leaders to improve their mitigation strategies and policies. It is these mitigation efforts that helped protect them during the earthquake of 2010. Hazard Mitigation is a key to a safer future; but what is hazard mitigation and what does it mean to the residents of Idaho?

Your local governments and Special Service Districts use mitigation strategies to better prepare for future events. These projects and procedures can include things like enlarging culverts under roads to prevent flood damage, seismically retrofitting older buildings to protect people during an earthquake or creating building codes that require specific standards of protection. The first step in recognizing risks is identifying the potential hazards.

The All Hazards Mitigation Plan Update has just compiled the most recent analysis of the possible natural hazards facing the Ada County planning area. The next step in this process is to share these findings with you. September is National Preparedness Month. Invest the time during this month to increase your awareness of natural hazards.

Meetings will be held on three different nights at three different locations to maximize your opportunity to hear and see this valuable information. Each location will share the same information, so please attend the meeting that is most convenient for you. The times, dates and locations are:

• Tuesday, Sept. 14
6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Eagle Fire Station #1, Main Training Room/EOC 966 E Iron Eagle Dr, Eagle 83616

• Wednesday, Sept.15
6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Meridian City Hall, Conference Rooms A & B 33 E Broadway Ave., Meridian, 83642

• Thursday, Sept. 16
6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Ada County Courthouse, Public Hearing Room (1st Floor) 200 W. Front St. Boise, ID 83702

At the meetings, attendees can give their home address to a facilitator who will check the results generated for that address by the disaster model. The model will forecast potential damages created by flooding and earthquake. There will be wall maps that depict the areas at risk for wildfire and landslide. Subject matter experts will be on hand to answer your questions about the hazards. Flyers and brochures on personal preparedness will also be available.

An equally important step in developing the community’s mitigation strategies is knowing what the public thinks. Below is a link to the ACCEM website.

Published 9-3-2010